Google rolled out AMP to everyone last August. More than an algorithm update, AMP is an attempt to square the circle of the mobile web and deliver content fast enough that people wouldn’t click away from it.
AMP results are shown in a carousel above other search results, including paid ones. Click an AMP search result and you’re taken to a superfast, lightweight version of the webpage.
Mobile web users outnumber desktop users now, but they’re still served websites that are compressed, ‘reponsive’ versions of desktop sites. Pages load too slowly, and when they do load they often don’t work well, delivering small screens the full, bloated desktop experience. AMP exists to solve that problem, getting around bloated websites by effectively making them impossible, and dodging slow load times by cacheing, stripped-down design and asynchrponous loading.
That makes it pretty important.
Unlike the algorithm updates we’re used to getting, AMP alters the whole way web pages work. It changes how they’re hosted, served and treated in SERPs, as well as how they can be written and what elements they can contain.
We’ve had a few months to get used to AMP, and there’s some real experience to go on now. So what effects will AMP have on your SEO?
1: What is AMP, Anyway?
AMP is essentially a stripped-down and cleaned-up version of a page or site, that can be delivered to mobile users quickly.
According to the AMP Project itself:
The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.
It achieves that by using its own, highly restrictive versions of the standard languages for building web pages. There’s not much tracking, and loading is asynchronous to beat render blocking. AMP pages are hosted by Google, and they’re cached on a dedicated CDN (Content Delivery Network) so that requests have less far to travel.
The results are radical: AMP pages load four times faster and use 10X less data.
2: AMP and Mobile Search
Google has clearly stated that pages won’t receive preferential treatment in SERPs merely for being AMP pages. But they will deliver a better mobile experience. Even more than desktop users, mobile users love a fast-loading page, and AMP is the fastest, no question.
So simply by being faster to load, AMP pages get you a higher mobile friendliness score. And that does bump you up SERPs, especially (as you’d expect) mobile SERPs.
Because AMP delivers a better user experience, it feeds the UX-influenced ranking factors, like bounce, CTR and better visibility – 80% of the brands using AMP have achieved better visibility.
AMP search results are displayed more prominently, so if you have an AMP page it stands more of a chance of claiming some of that prime real estate in the Top Stories carousel, as well as the new AMP rich card carousel. Get in there, and you have top-of-page-1 position.
It also speaks to ranking signals like clicks from search, and can indirectly encourage more backlinks by getting your content in front of more people.
3: AMP Pages, AMP Site, or no AMP?
AMP was initially designed for news sites, and among the first adopters were major news outlets whom Google invited onboard. So if you’re the New York Times, you should clearly get AMPed up; but if you’re a blog or ecommerce site – you publish, but it’s not ‘news’ – should you use AMP?
Depends. If you’re basically a publisher or you rely really heavily on your blog, consider AMPing your whole site. AMP works on desktop too, and developers have already shown that it’s possible to build a full-featured, responsive website on AMP. You’ll get round any potential domain authority/backlinking issues by having just one, fully-AMP site. Alternatively, you could AMP articles, blog posts and your knowledge base and leave the core site untouched.
AMP means adapting your SEO tactics, not a rewrite of the whole rulebook. It definitely forces you to decide how important content publishing is for your brand. Your own analytics should play a part in deciding this. AMP doesn’t have strong direct effects on SEO, but it does have strong indirect effects in that AMP news pages definitely get found first. And when the majority of traffic comes from mobile, and the trend is accelerating, AMP makes sound sense for SEO.
Want to fit AMP into your content strategy?